Ever since I was a kid, I’ve turned to fiction to help me deal with the harder parts of life. While I’ve never encountered a character that I felt was really like me (there aren’t a lot of black female protagonists to choose from, unfortunately), there are certain shows that can always get my mind off of things and take me away to a happier, less stressful place.
Sometimes all you need is something to help you not think so hard for a little bit, or at least something that will make you think hard about something else. Because sometimes you’d rather think about how you would fare in a zombie apocalypse or how relevant the Prime Directive is in life-or-death situations, instead of obsessing over the dumpster fire your life occasionally imitates.
There are a lot of ugly parts of life that you may not always feel strong enough to face, and it doesn’t make you weak if you need a break. Trust me, I get it. If anything, media can help you clear your mind so that you can look at things with a fresh perspective. Here are a few shows that have gotten me through the worst life’s thrown at me so far, and should you find yourself struggling, I’d suggest you check them out, too.
Star Trek: The Next Generation
*puts on Youtuber voice* Storytime! The second most painful heartbreak I’ve ever gone through turned me into a total zombie at the time. Days felt like a pile of unwanted hours I had to fill with actually doing things before I could allow myself to finally, mercifully, return to my bed and the pile of angst and sadness in my mind, in which I would mentally roll around like a pig in mud. So what better time to binge-watch, without pause, Star Trek: The Next Generation, a show I remembered only snippets of from childhood?
Here’s the basic premise: a crew of various human(ish) individuals, led by Patrick Stewart at his most dashing, aboard a ship explore space (the final frontier, guys!). There are moral and ethical dilemmas, plotlines that deal with time travel in really interesting and thought-provoking ways, and very little romance, which is an absence any heartbroken individual can appreciate. Sometimes you just want to get lost in space and fantasize about living on a starship and having space cocktails with Whoopi Goldberg, you know?
The Vicar of Dibley
This show! This show this show this show. I love it. I will always love it. It’s just so delightful.
Here’s the premise: Geraldine Granger is a female vicar assigned to a village full of harmless, oddball characters in this lovable British sitcom from the early 90s. This is one of those shows that may not be that well-known, depending on who you’re talking to, but is an absolute gem, in my opinion. The humor fluctuates between being quite smart to being unabashedly lowbrow, and does so with expert precision. It’s just so darn charming and light-hearted, guys. It’s the warm blanket of slightly outdated Brit comedies, plus it’s my go-to background noise show when I’m working at night. I’ve watched it for years and I love it forever.
Guys. Guys. I’ve been watching Supernatural since like, season 1. I was in high school when this show first came out. I’ve been a fan of this show during some serous transitions in my life (high school, college, becoming a parent, holy crap). Back when I was serving that post-partum depression realness as a new mom (but not wanting to admit it or do anything about it at the time haha oops), I mainlined this show.
Never have I been more grateful for American shows with their ridiculous 20-odd episodes each season than during that period of my life. I took a break from SPN at around season 5 or 6, and by the time I got back around to it I had dozens and dozens of episodes (and meta, and fanfiction, and behind-the-scenes drama) to catch up with. There’s nothing like getting lost in Sam and Dean’s homoerotic melodrama to help clear your own head, and for that reason, I will always have a soft spot for Supernatural, no matter how long it drags on. (Yes, you can love a series and still think it needs to end. This show is on season what now? Like 36? I’ma always defend it though. I mean it’s trash but it’s my trash, you know?)
The Walking Dead
Ah, zombie dramas. For when you need something to remind you that, yeah, life feels like it sucks right now, but would this even matter in a zombie apocalypse? Not even. That’s what you need to be worried about, not these peanut headed lil boys out here trying to ruin your life. Do you even have emergency plans in place? Do you have a weapon? What skills do you even have? Stop crying in your journal about that dude you only dated for like 2 months and your shitty grades and lack of a future and worry about how tf you’re going to survive when it all hits the fan.
The Walking Dead: forever helping me forget my own problems by making me think really hard about problems that have yet to occur, like zombie apocalypses and what I would do if my wife slept with my best friend ’cause she thought I was dead but then I came back and my best friend had an attitude about it and went all single-white-female and kinda tried to kill me a couple times.
If you go back 3 years, you’d find me overworked, precariously balancing 2 jobs, trying to keep up with my last couple semesters in college, and dealing with that whole ‘new mom/post-partum depression’ thing I mentioned earlier.
Yeah, that was hard, but every night after work I’d get a little moment where I could come home, cuddle my sleeping babe, and watch an episode of BSG with the volume turned down really low. Life was a harder battle then than it is now, but those moments – quietness, perfectness, peacefulness among the deafening chaos and uncertainty and fear – were golden. The only downside is that Netflix took the show off when I was 4 episodes away from the series finale. I still haven’t caught up; it’s on my to-do list but I feel like too much time has passed and I’m totally lost. Ugh.